Brief

Baldwin meets with health providers to discuss high cost of inhalers

By: - February 5, 2024 2:56 pm
Portrait of a young African American man using asthma inhaler at home.

Man using inhaler at home | by MixMedia Getty Images Royalty-free

Skyrocketing prices for inhalers that people with asthma and other chronic respiratory ailments depend on are a growing concern and warrant federal investigation and corrective action, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) said after meeting with health care providers to discuss the issue.

Baldwin met Friday with providers and patient advocates at Access Community Health Center in Madison, where she asked about the impact of pricing medication at $200 or more a month.

Speaking with reporters Friday after the meeting, Baldwin contrasted list prices for some of the drugs in the U.S. with what they cost in Europe.

“It’s remarkable that you can see prices between $200 and $600 here,” she said, while the same products are priced at $10 to $20 in Europe.

While some patients may have insurance that covers those costs, others do not, Baldwin said after the discussion.

Baldwin and three other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee launched an investigation in January of high prices for inhalers and wrote to the CEOs of AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline and Teva, the four largest manufacturers of inhalers sold in the U.S.

The letter raised a number of questions about the possible use of patent law manipulation to keep some inhalers out of the cheaper generic market.

Baldwin said that participants in the Madison roundtable pointed out that as more generic inhaler products become available, it will be important for insurers to include them in their list of approved medications.

“That’s competition and helps drive prices down,” Baldwin said of the generic products. “But you want to be able to make sure that patients can access the new products. And so the insurance companies need to provide coverage.”

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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary.

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